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28 OCT 2021
1. The conversation around discontinuing legacy admissions is heating up in the US
Last week Amherst College, a small, private liberal arts college in Massachusetts, announced it will end “the longstanding practice” of considering legacy in its admissions decisions. The announcement has re-energized an ongoing conversation in the higher education sphere about the fairness of legacy admissions as the few universities that do not take legacy into consideration enroll markedly higher proportions of low-income and first generation students. According to a 2019 survey, 73% of the most selective colleges in the US (those that admit less than 25% of applicants) give “an admissions advantage” to children of alumni — a practice that’s coming under increasing scrutiny as it “goes against the meritocratic spirit and impedes social mobility”.
Crimson’s Take: As a company built on the mission to push stand-out students beyond the barriers of legacy, location, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status to achieve their university dreams, we firmly believe that each student’s merit alone should be the determining factor when it comes to admissions decisions. Further, we think every qualified student in the world should have a fair shot at higher education — so we’re on board with the idea of eliminating legacy considerations to provide greater and fairer access to college, especially for underrepresented students.
2. Enrollment rates at US universities are declining for the second consecutive year
Despite predictions that low enrollment numbers at US universities would recover this year following the end of the nationwide lockdown and eased COVID-19 restrictions, new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center indicate that Fall 2021 enrollment numbers “show no signs of recovery from last year’s declines.” In fact, according to the Research Center’s executive director, “If this current rate of decline … were to hold up, it would be the largest two-year enrollment decline in at least the last 50 years in the US.” Community colleges and two-year colleges, which often serve as springboards for students into private and four-year universities, represent the hardest-hit sector.
Crimson’s Take: For many students without access to the necessary financial resources, community colleges and two-year universities are the first stop after high school on their journey to a four-year institution; so it’s disheartening to learn that these unis are seeing such a steep decline in enrollment even as the US begins to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Given our founding belief that every qualified student deserves the opportunity to study at the university of their dreams, we can only hope these numbers turn around in the coming months and years as we know what an important stepping stone these institutions can be, particularly for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
3. Tuition costs at US colleges are still rising — but at historically low rates as the effects of the pandemic persist
College tuition in the US has been known to increase steadily each year as universities account for inflation rates and the rise of other costs; but according to an annual report released by the College Board, tuition in 2021 increased at “historically low rates” for the second year in a row. In fact, in the words of Times Higher Education, “after adjusting for inflation, average college tuition actually decreased during the 2021-22 academic year as colleges scrambled to attract and retain students amid steep enrollment declines.” With enrolment numbers dropping at an alarming rate, universities are reportedly trying to keep costs from going up as they struggle to attract and retain students.
Crimson’s Take: We know that the financial aspect of university education can present a large obstacle for some students, which is why we make it a point to help students with scholarship applications in the same way we help with their college applications. We’re glad to know that some US universities have made it a priority to keep costs as affordable as they can for incoming students, especially as the world emerges from a devastating pandemic that left many families in financial straits. We understand why this news may be somewhat ominous with regard to how universities are recovering from dire circumstances inflicted by COVID-19, but we still recognize the silver lining for students and their families, who didn’t have to worry about rising tuition this year!
4. Stanford joins National Education Equity Lab to offer classes for disadvantaged high school students
Stanford University has joined the lineup of schools working with the National Education Equity Lab, a New York-based nonprofit which began enrolling high school students in courses at the likes of Harvard, Yale, Cornell, and other prestigious universities in 2019. The initiative “targets minority students and schools where at least 40% of students are from low-income families” in an effort to combat “under-matching, a term in college admissions to describe well-qualified students who choose less-challenging institutions or decide not to attend college at all.” Stanford is offering a computer science class through the program and has enrolled 225 students from across the US.
Crimson’s Take: At Crimson, we believe that elite education should be available to any qualified student that’s willing to put in the effort to get there — so we’re thrilled to learn about initiatives like this, which help talented students overcome circumstantial obstacles to pursue life-changing opportunities. We’d love to see programs like this expand to countries beyond the US too, because we’ve witnessed firsthand the capability of young people across the globe with the ideas and ambition to make serious waves in the future. Nonetheless, we love learning that world-leading institutions like Stanford are participating in such initiatives and helping students realize their potential, one step at a time!